Proper gifts for modern monks

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

Proper gifts for modern monks

Postby Vakkali » Fri Nov 18, 2011 2:39 am

Hi everybody!

I was hoping I could get some guidance from an experienced layperson or member of the sangha. I recently discovered that there is a vihara in my area, and I've started going to receive instructions from the bhikkhus there. I think it would be appropriate for me to occasionally bring something to offer them, but I'm not actually sure what that something should or could be. What kinds of things do laypeople usually give to bhikkhus and bhikkhunis? I don't want to put them in the uncomfortable position of having to accept something they can't use. They're from Sri Lanka, if that helps. I don't know whether monks and nuns from different countries are accustomed to different kinds of offerings or not.

I hope that I'm posting in the right place. I don't want to clutter up the wrong part of the board.

Thanks in advance!
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Re: Proper gifts for modern monks

Postby pilgrim » Fri Nov 18, 2011 2:52 am

Bringing some cooked food for lunch dana would be appropriate. You may also say that you wish to make a gift and ask if they require anything specific. You could tell them the maximum amount you are prepared to offer for this gift.
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Re: Proper gifts for modern monks

Postby Vakkali » Fri Nov 18, 2011 3:16 am

Thank you, pilgrim. Of course I could ask them; I don't know why that didn't occur to me earlier. I wonder if lentil soup would be okay? I'm not actually sure how they get their food, because the vihara is in the middle of nowhere. Actually, does anybody know how bhikkhus and bhikkhunis living in America feed themselves? Do they make alms-rounds? I can't imagine that the average American suburbanite would be comfortable providing any food for strangers going door to door.
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Re: Proper gifts for modern monks

Postby pilgrim » Fri Nov 18, 2011 3:33 am

Lentil soup or any other food is fine unless they inform you they are vegetarian ( which is not common ). Quite likely, lay people will bring food to them or cook on site. You may wish to check before-hand but it is likely they begin their lunch meal around 11 am, so it is best to bring food just before then.
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Re: Proper gifts for modern monks

Postby Vakkali » Fri Nov 18, 2011 3:57 am

That's good to know, pilgrim. I'll make sure that I talk to them beforehand, but as a general rule, should I only bring enough for a single meal? I thought I heard that they're technically not supposed to take more than they need for a day, but I could be misremembering.
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Re: Proper gifts for modern monks

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Nov 18, 2011 3:58 am

Greetings Vakkali,

Just to complicate things though, there may already be a "food roster" in place in which case your food offering, however well intended, may be superfluous to requirements.

Sometimes there might be a list of items/requisites posted up somewhere... toilet paper, teabags, batteries, fuel cans, detergents, razors - these things have to come from somewhere. Some modern establishments even have these lists posted on their internet sites.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: Proper gifts for modern monks

Postby Monkey Mind » Fri Nov 18, 2011 6:22 am

Also consider donating your time. There is a lot of work that goes into maintaining a Vihara, I'd bet they have a group of lay people who organize work parties.
"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

Sutta Nipāta 3.710
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Re: Proper gifts for modern monks

Postby Monkey Mind » Fri Nov 18, 2011 6:32 am

"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

Sutta Nipāta 3.710
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Re: Proper gifts for modern monks

Postby James the Giant » Fri Nov 18, 2011 7:53 am

Soup is kinda problematic actually, in my experience. At my local monastery the monks usually use one bowl to put everything in, so they have to get a separate little bowl for the soup.
I recommend burgers. Monks NEVER get given burgers, so even if they're cold by the time they get there, they will enjoy them. Or fries.
I once dana-ed a six-pack of energy drinks, and you should have seen the monk's eyes light up!
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
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Re: Proper gifts for modern monks

Postby santa100 » Fri Nov 18, 2011 1:57 pm

Any from the Four Requisites should be fine:
"The four requisites, food, clothing, shelter and medicines, are what lay people can offer as a practical way of expressing generosity and appreciation of their faith in belonging to the Buddhist Community"

(ref: http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/bud ... yguide.htm )
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Re: Proper gifts for modern monks

Postby beeblebrox » Sat Nov 19, 2011 2:37 pm

James the Giant wrote:I recommend burgers. Monks NEVER get given burgers, so even if they're cold by the time they get there, they will enjoy them. Or fries.
I once dana-ed a six-pack of energy drinks, and you should have seen the monk's eyes light up!


I think that should be OK as long as the cow wasn't killed for the monks specifically. :) I think this might be a bit problematic (I really don't want to derail this thread into another argument about the consumption of meat), but these days the cows are usually slaughtered in some remote places like Kansas... for no one in particular.

It's all done for the "consumer"... an anonymous entity. The consumer is something abstract (almost like atta, actually)... it's basically a blanket term that covers anyone who consumes.

The monks don't have much choice in what they consume... but the laypeople still do. I think that this basically makes the sangha a reflection of the laypeople who support them. If the community gives them nothing but caffeinated drinks... then they'll become a sangha of caffeine addicts. (Bhante Gunaratana alluded to something similar in his biography... where he talked about the addiction of betel nuts.) If the laypeople give them nothing, then they'll just disappear. This is just something to think about.

The laypeople is supposed to support the monks' practices... so that the monks will be able to teach them something in return. They're basically a reflection of each other... which is pretty much kamma at work. There is no distinct atta that can be found in betweeen them, only dependent origination. It usually starts with ignorance (of the four noble truths)... but it doesn't have to. It's your choice. It's something that you need to figure out in your practice.

:anjali:
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Re: Proper gifts for modern monks

Postby bodom » Sat Nov 19, 2011 3:17 pm

Giving in the Pali Canon
by
Lily de Silva


http://www.enabling.org/ia/vipassana/Ar ... Silva.html

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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